Nieman Foundation calls for release of Al Jazeera reporter Parvaz in Syria

Romenesko Misc.
Dorothy Parvaz, a 2009 Nieman Fellow, hasn’t been heard from since she landed in Damascus on assignment on April 29. Syrian officials have informed Al Jazeera that they’re holding her. “The Nieman family is deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague,” says Nieman Foundation curator Bob Giles. “The foundation has joined with many others in the quest for her release from detention by Syrian officials.” || Check out the Free Dorothy Parvaz page on Facebook.


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Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard calls for release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz in Syria

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard is calling for information and assistance in obtaining the release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz, a 2009 Nieman Fellow, who is being held in Syria.

Parvaz, who works for Al Jazeera, hasn’t been heard from since she landed in Damascus on assignment on Friday, April 29. Syrian officials have informed the news organization that they are holding her.

Nieman Foundation curator Bob Giles said, “The Nieman family is deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague, Dorothy Parvaz. The foundation has joined with many others in the quest for her release from detention by Syrian officials. We welcome any information we can share in the hope that it will be helpful to resolving the situation quickly.”

Giles added that he is troubled about the growing number of attacks on journalists working worldwide, whether though actual physical assaults or governmental interference and threats. “It’s crucial that we protect and preserve our journalists’ autonomy and ability to report freely,” he said.

Parvaz, an American, Canadian and Iranian citizen, joined Al Jazeera in 2010. A spokesman for the news organization said, “We are worried about Dorothy’s welfare, security and safety. Syria should release her immediately.”

The Nieman Foundation has posted information about Parvaz’s disappearance on its websites and is in touch with Nieman Fellows and other journalists in the Middle East as part of a growing effort to reach authorities who might intercede with the Syrian government, as well as to obtain information on what has happened to Parvaz.

A Facebook page – www.facebook.com/FreeDorothy – has been created to track news of Parvaz and updates are being posted on Twitter @ #FreeDorothy.

Kristen Young, a colleague who worked with Parvaz at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said she obtained this quote from J. J. Harder, the press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus: “Ambassador (Robert) Ford met with a senior Syrian official about the issue of Ms. Dorothy Parvaz and he asked for more information and consular access.”

Hannah Allam, Parvaz’s Nieman classmate and Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, says “Al Jazeera really goes to bat for its journalists, so I’m sure the channel is doing all it can … Perhaps just posting the news story about her disappearance and spreading awareness is good at this point.”

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  • quasarnine

    Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, John McNee, was Canada’a ambassador to Syria from 1993 to 1997, which should give him some extra insight and leverage in any diplomacy on Dorothy Parvaz’s behalf.
    I am a Canadian and naturalized American and I have emailed Ambassadors Susan Rice and John McNee regarding the plight of Al Jazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz. I urge everyone who deplores the terrifying crackdown in Syria to contact their elected leaders and UN ambassadors about heavy sanctions on Syria for its outrageous human rights abuses. The UN and the Red Cross must be allowed entry into Syria immediately.